Friday, February 12, 2010

Water Creatures of Astra and the Space Age

When Space Age came about in the late 1940s and 50s, it brought curiosity as well as apprehension, and some music sought to reflect the time in an exaggerated way. The song “Water Creatures of Astra” by Russ Garcia illustrates this concept with its buildups and peaks. Even though the sounds of the song are mostly recognizable like musique concrète, the way they are placed together creates mystery and prospect as well as nervousness. The song sounds like melodies tiptoeing across the tape until they approach the ending cut where they spike in surprise. During the space age people became very intrigued by what the future may hold, but fear also came with this interest. In Strange Sounds, Timothy Taylor wrote, “Even though the allure and anxiety over technology and the future were real, many of these albums coped by making fun of it, perhaps attempting to skewer some of the more hyperbolic predictions” (p. 90). The song by Garcia may use some of the ideas of the exaggerated predictions of the future because of the way the instruments vibrate in ambiguity and jump into unexpected revelations.

Like Garcia’s “Water Creatures of Astra,” Louis and Bebe Barron’s “Battle with the Invisible Monster” from the move Forbidden Planet also coincides with Taylor’s concept of the Space Age. This combination of sounds travels through a mysterious atmosphere and stumbles upon unanticipated occurrences. Taylor talks about Forbidden Planet and explains how it represented the anxiety of the time through its plot (p. 93). Even with all the advancement of technology, a civilization was not guaranteed to survive. These songs illustrate the curiosity as well as fear that the future holds.

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